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Huo Shu Tang: a snapshot of China¡¯s finest handicrafts


As the Chinese place much emphasis on meanings behind objects, one of the best ways to discover China is to know Chinese handicrafts. Handicrafts are like kaleidoscopes, through which you can see the richness of Chinese culture.


Huo Shu Tang, though a small shop, offers more than 100 types of ethnic handicrafts from all over China, most of which are rarely seen. Items here include cloth works, batiks, bean arrangements, clay figurines, paper-cuts, shadow puppets, and embroideries. All of them are made by highly skilled craftsmen.


I found myself amused by a clay work of a thumb (RMB 300), which featured a tiny frog at the tip. It turned out to be a prize-winning work in the shop, and it means ¡°approval and appreciation¡±. I also appreciated a cute bean arrangement work named ¡°Countryside Chophouse¡± (RMB 280), which used beans in various sizes, shapes and colors to feature people, animals, and other objects.


Prices vary quite a bit. For example, a cloth tiger costs RMB 30, while a fine piece of jade engraving costs several thousand RMBs.


The shop owner is an interesting person who speaks a little English.



What I appreciate

A wide variety of handicrafts, the bean arrangement works


What customers appreciate

Exquisite Chinese handicrafts, quality service


Walking only 5 minutes from the exit of Communication University Metro Line, you can find a 3-storied building named Dong Fang Gu Yuan Art Market. Inside is a huge selection of beautiful Chinese art, such as hand-made carvings at Teng Yun Ge.

The owner of the shop tells me that all the carving products are from his hometown in Fujian Province. Carving products from Fujian are renowned in China. The shop features woodcarving, bamboo carving, stone carving, jade carving, and colored glaze carving.

The wood carving products are made of various woods, some of which are really rare, like Zitan wood. All products are made with superb carving skills. My favorite figures are people from the stories of ancient Chinese history.

A telephone carved with a dragon and phoenix also caught my eyes. It was a really nice piece of work, with a lamp standing on the pedestal. The owner says it's a real telephone. Once plugged in, you can make phone calls with it.

Further inside is for the display of stone carvings. The prices of stone carvings are much higher than those of woodcarvings, ranging from RMB 1000 to RMB30,000, depending on the sizes and designs.

I took note of a particular type of stone carving, called Shoushan Stone carving. It has a history of over 1500 years and famous throughout the country.

What I appreciate:
Excellent carving skills, lovely carved figures

What customers appreciate:
Splendid display of hand-made carvings, a wide choice of items as far as prices and sizes are concerned.


It's pretty amazing what a little imagination can do. For example, take Hongfu, whose various animal figures are all made from plants. This Laitai Flower Market shop really stood out with this special folk art originated from Northeast China.

A look around the shelves showed animal figurines like bears, squirrels, hedgehogs, rabbits, camels, and ducks. The most impressive ones were the chickens. Some were made of corn, some were made of leaves. One particular piece featured a family of cute chicken figurines standing at the corner of the shop. 
I took a bear figurine to examine closely. It felt really light. The owner said the frame is made of foam. Then they glued the sterilized plants onto the body. Everything is made by hand.

A big rooster costs RMB 390. A hen costs RMB 190. A little chicken only costs RMB 35.

The shop also offers furniture, carpets, clay figurines, and fish wood carvings.

What I appreciate:
Beautiful handicrafts with unique craft

What customers appreciate:
Chinese folk art, beautiful handicrafts


Wei Sheng Hang, a shop in 798 Art Zone, holds various handmade curiosities from Taiwan.

One of the first items inside which I found interesting was "Tales by Pave". This is an impressive series of stone carvings and paintings. The stone carvings depict stories about the Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses and those from Buddhism. Each stone is about 8 x 6 inches. The stones are light and used to hang on walls. The black stone carvings contain charcoal bamboo, which can purify the air surrounding it. Price is about RMB 450.

Their colorful stone paintings feature the imitations of paintings collected at Taipei's Palace Museum. Prices vary from RMB 450 to RMB 890.

The exquisite porcelain paintings are another curiosity at Wei Sheng Hang. They are artworks of a female artist who started her art career by painting on glass. Eventually, she made a career out of painting on porcelain. Price is RMB 662.

The shop also offers the beautiful celadon tea sets and the cloth-made figurines, handbags, and pillows.

What I appreciate:
Handmade artworks

What customers appreciate:
Precious artworks, special technique


Oroqen is an old ethnic minority group living in Xing'an Mountains of Inner Mongolia. Living under harsh environments, they have learned to use barks from Birch trees to make all kinds of items, such as cases, hats, handbags, baskets, and boats. Chanyu Group, a shop amidst the tech-heavy Zhong Guan Cun area, has a colorful display of these beautiful handicrafts.

Cases in a variety of forms highlight the shop. They come in various shapes and sizes, including that of a drum, a bowl, and even a heart. They can be used to hold food, jewel, pencil, or anything else you like. The bark is very durable, and will last a long time.

In fact, the shop owner, who is an Oroqen, personally vouched for the durability of the bark. She said an Oroqen family would use utensils made of Birch bark for hundreds of years.

Prices of cases vary from RMB 20 to RMB 500, depending on the sizes and intricacy. Hats and handbags are priced from RMB 100 to RMB 300.

The shop wall hung paintings of Oroqen's landscape, such as one depicting a wolf walking though the forests of Xing'an Mountains. The paintings are produced on birch wood using pyrography, which paints through the use of fire.

What I appreciate:
Unique technique, beautiful design

What customers appreciate:
Special handicrafts, ethnic art


Little Rabbit, a little shop in Cheng Fu Street, holds a large variety of folk handicrafts collected from the rural areas of Northwestern China.

Cloth items are most eye-catching when I looked inside. Each one is finely made with beautiful embroidery. They come in different forms: toys, children's pillows, fragrant pouches, shoes, to name a few. The little dangling charms with the colorful animal images sold the best. Price is around RMB 20 each.

I also saw some fragrant pouches, which is rare in cities nowadays. With perfume and some Chinese herbal medicine inside, the pouches smell sweet and supposedly repel evil spirits too. Younger folks use it as a token of love. Price is about RMB 25.

Looking at the shelves, they were fully occupied by the lovely clay or porcelain figurines of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals. Prices vary from RMB 30 to RMB 45.

Other items inside the shop include paper-cuttings, paper fans, farmer¡¯s paintings, and shadow puppets

The owner was a former English teacher, so she can speak good English.

What I appreciate:
Precious handicrafts made by country folks

What customers appreciate:
Beautiful handicrafts, learn about folk culture


The art of bone carving dates back to the stone age, and is still alive today. One place to find stone carving is a shop in the Pearl Market. The shop covers a wide range of bone carvings, including necklaces, bracelets, jewelry cases, hairpins, and lifelike figurines.

The lovely animal figurines are especially eye-catching. One cute piece featured a big elephant dragging a cart on which a small elephant stood. I was amazed at its delicate design. Another one I liked was a frog with a big open mouth. It is used to collect coins.

The most complicated carvings were figurines of people in gowns. The patterns were very detailed, and required special skills to make them look archaic.

The shop also features glass cases with small ornaments. You may pick and choose from them make necklaces and bracelets.

Many bone carvings have a marked price. Price of a hairpin, for example was RMB 285. Price of people figurines cost from RMB 800 to RMB 2000. But everything is negotiable. Make sure to bargain.

What I appreciate:
Various bone carvings with fine craft

What customers appreciate:
Various bone carvings, negotiable price

Beijing pictures, Bronze and copper wares

In China, bronze ware has been in use for over four millenniums. Chinese bronze ware is highly valued for its consummate workmanship and primitive beauty. On my visit at Baigong Handicraft Museum, a bronze and copper ware shop drew my attention.


As I entered the shop, an old artisan was working on a piece of bronze using a magnifying glass. Several beautiful metal ornaments were displayed on shelves. The darker ones were made of bronze, while the others were made from copper. A pair of bronze unicorns with fine, clear markings looked especially stately and exquisite.


I tried to break the ice with the artisan, and he raised his head and turned to me. We talked about various things. He told me that each unicorn cost 400 yuan. And that his key goods were copper incense burners made by his own hands. I tried to lift a square-shaped one. To my surprise, it felt rather heavy. The artisan told me that the copper had passed through the purifying process five times. It cost 4000 yuan.


What I appreciated

Hand-made bronze and copper ware, outstanding workmanship.


What customers appreciate

Exquisite bronze and copper ware, excellent workmanship.


Folk handicrafts are an essential element of the Chinese culture, and attract foreign and domestic visitors alike. One shop that has a large variety of folk handcrafts is the Folk Craft Gift near the Forbidden City.


On the shop¡¯s shelves hold a large array of gift items: bamboo books, opera masks, bronze vessels, wood sculptures, earthen wares, etc. The prices are all fairly low.


The main features of the shop are the bamboo books, commonly used in China before the invention of paper. Books vary in thermes. One had a poem of the famous Li Bai as he showered praises for China¡¯s mother river, the Yellow River. Another set of four pieces of bamboo paintings depicts ¡®the four beauties of ancient China¡¯. Each of them sells around RMB 100.


One small bronze mask with bulgy eyes caught me in curiosity. The owner told me that original mask, excavated two hundred years ago, sparked a debate on the origin of Chinese culture. This perfect replica is priced at RMB 200.


The owner, Mr. Zhou, can speak a little English for communication. As he has studied in Japan, he can communicate fully in Japanese too.


What I appreciate

Beautiful products, good service


What customers appreciate

Beautiful products, low prices


For over 5000 years, Shiwan ceramic technique sculpted life-like figurines. Shiwan, a county in Guangdong Province, is famously called "the Ceramic Capital of Southern China".

A few days ago I visited Yi Ding Xuan, a shop featuring this great folk art in the Pearl Market. While entering the shop, I saw many tourists, foreign and Chinese, attracted by those colorful figurines. Figures of women account for a majority of figurines displayed. These figures demonstrate the exquisite skills of sculptors and are characterized by their vivid and human qualities.

I especially like the figurines depicting life in late 19 century. The statue of a couple with their baby show happiness of the family. Another one of a lady with her abacus in hands seemed to show her satisfaction with good business. The third one had a mother reading a book for her son, showing her high expectation for the. Each statue is unique, and tells a story.

The owner of the shop told me that the most outstanding characteristic of Shiwan ceramic art is the rich glazing colors, among which white, red and blue are quite popular.

The prices of the ceramic figurines are from RMB 150 to RMB 400.

What I appreciate:
Handmade sculptures depicting lively figures and animals

What customers appreciate:
Life-like figurines reflecting Chinese culture and history

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Beijing Shopping: Huo Shu Tang offers over 100 types of handicrafts from deep China.